Political News from Yahoo

Liberia police dogged by graft despite decade of reforms

In the shade of palms lining Monrovia's Waterside Market, street vendors vie for customers, yelling to passers-by about their latest bargains while keeping an eye out for the ever-present menace of the police. Sitting behind her jewellery stall, 29-year-old student Zoe Freeman smiles nervously as she explains how officers in Liberia's capital regularly confiscate her merchandise and extort money from her. Abel Dayougar, 26, quit a life spent in and out of jail for armed robbery to become a used-clothes trader, but says police harassment is making him question whether turning over a new leaf was the right decision. "That's what brought me into the market -- to make an honest living... I am begging the president (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) to talk to her police to leave us alone," he said.

Obama to nominate San Antonio mayor as US housing secretary

President Barack Obama will announce on Friday his plan to nominate Julian Castro, the charismatic Hispanic mayor of San Antonio, Texas, as US secretary of housing and urban development. The rising young star will replace current HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, whose nomination as the new director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will also be announced at the event, according to a White House official. "The president is thrilled that Secretary Donovan will take on this next role and believes that Mayor Castro is the right person to build on his critical work at HUD based on his work in San Antonio," the White House official said.

White House: Obama to add Julian Castro to Cabinet

CHICAGO (AP) — President Barack Obama will nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to become housing secretary and will tap Shaun Donovan, his current housing chief, to run the budget office, a White House official said Thursday.

Obama to tap rising Democratic star Castro for Cabinet post

By Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will shuffle his cabinet on Friday, nominating San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as secretary of housing and urban development and naming outgoing HUD chief Shaun Donovan as his new budget director, a White House official said on Thursday night. The switch brings a high-profile Latino leader who is a rising star in Democratic politics into the Obama administration and moves a long-serving Cabinet member into the president's inner circle at the Office of Management and Budget. Obama was set to make the announcement at 3:35 p.m. ET at the White House, flanked by Castro and Donovan, the White House official said. "The President is thrilled that Secretary Donovan will take on this next role and believes that Mayor Castro is the right person to build on his critical work at HUD based on his work in San Antonio," the White House official said in a statement.

You Don’t Know Why Alyssa Funke Died

Bullying or the ‘pressure of porn’? Everyone’s trying to add their own narrative to explain the 19-year-old’s suicide, which came weeks after her first amateur adult video went live.

Ukraine vote campaign climaxes after 17 troops killed

Volnovakha (Ukraine) (AFP) - Ukraine's presidential candidates will hold their final rallies Friday as pre-election clouds darkened after the army lost 17 soldiers in attacks by pro-Russian separatists in the country's east. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of trying to "escalate the conflict" and disrupt Sunday's presidential vote, calling on the UN Security Council to hold an urgent meeting on the crisis. He said the Kremlin's announcement of a troop withdrawal from the border was merely a "bluff" and that even if soldiers were redeploying, Ukraine was still being infiltrated by "armed terrorists". Western governments have pressured Russia not to meddle in the snap election, seen as crucial to preventing all-out civil war erupting on Europe's eastern flank.

Obama urges Democrats to vote in midterms, attacks Republicans

President Barack Obama on Thursday urged Democrats to vote in November elections, saying the chance to pass immigration reform is at risk if Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress. "We have a congenital defect to not vote in midterm elections," he said at a fundraising reception for Democratic Senate candidates. "The midterm comes and we fall asleep." Democrats hold a 55-45 seat majority in the Senate, but many analysts give the Republicans an even chance of picking up the six seats they would need to seize control of the chamber. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is not considered to be in play.

Thai army summons over 100 from rival political camps

Bangkok (AFP) - Thailand's army summoned more than 100 prominent figures from the nation's rival political sides on Friday, including "Red Shirt" leaders, former police and military officers and politicians from the opposing parties.

US alone in helping Nigeria find kidnapped girls says Kerry

The United States is alone in helping Nigeria locate more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamists, Secretary of State John Kerry said, despite help on the ground from Britain, France and Israel. With 80 military personnel sent to neighboring Chad for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, the United States is the biggest foreign participant in the effort against the militant group Boko Haram. Washington has also deployed surveillance drones, spy planes and about 30 civilian and military specialists to support Nigeria's security forces.

Mali in crisis as rebels take control of northern towns

Mali was in crisis after losing two northern towns including the rebel bastion of Kidal to Tuareg separatists in a humiliating defeat forcing the government to call for an "immediate ceasefire". Around 20 Malian soldiers were killed and 30 wounded in the fighting that saw insurgents led by Tuareg rebels recapture the key northern town of Kidal, the defence minister said. "There were dead and wounded on both sides," Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga told public television. But a leader of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), said 40 Malian soldiers had been killed and 70 taken prisoner since hostilities began on Saturday while 50 "brand new" 4x4s and 12 armoured vehicles had been seized along with several tonnes of weapons and ammunition.

Security forces 'kill Egypt militant leader'

Cairo (AFP) - Security forces in the Sinai peninsula killed the leader of Egypt's deadliest militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, along with three members overnight, officials said early Friday.

U.S. Senate panel backs plan for alternative to Russian rocket engine

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved a plan that would add $100 million to the U.S. military budget to start work on a new U.S. rocket engine and eliminate reliance on a Russian-made engine used to lift big government satellites into orbit. The House Armed Services Committee included a similar provision in its defense authorization bill earlier this month. Tensions with Russia have sparked growing concerns about the use of Russian-made RD-180 engines by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp that is responsible for launching U.S. military and spy satellites into space. A high-ranking Russian official recently threatened to end sales of the Russian rocket engines for U.S. military use in response to western sanctions imposed after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

House defies Pentagon on defense spending

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House defied the Pentagon on Thursday, overwhelmingly backing a $601 billion defense authorization bill that saves the Cold War-era U-2 spy plane, military bases and Navy cruisers despite warnings that it will undercut military readiness.

Congress heads toward showdown over 2015 defense priorities

By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers in Congress headed toward a showdown over Pentagon spending on Thursday after the House and Senate advanced competing versions of the annual defense policy bill that differ on everything from spending priorities to closing Guantanamo. The House of Representatives voted 325-98 to pass a 2015 National Defense Authorization Act that rejected the Pentagon's bid to cut long-term costs by reducing military pay raises and eliminating planes, ships and bases. Hours later the Senate Armed Services Committee unveiled its version of the same legislation, approving a Pentagon proposal to offer smaller military pay hikes, lay up 11 Navy cruisers for long-term maintenance and reorganize the Army helicopter fleet. The Senate and House plans differed on how to pay for proposed changes to the Pentagon budget, with the House reducing funds for keeping the military combat-ready while the Senate panel sought to avoid that.

3 more arrests in Miss. Sen. Cochran photo probe

MADISON, Miss. (AP) — Investigators say a Mississippi tea party official and two other men arrested Thursday conspired with a conservative blogger to use photographs of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's ill wife to push allegations that the longtime Republican senator was involved in an inappropriate relationship with another woman.

US Senate panel budgets $100 mn for non-Russian rocket

A Senate panel set aside $100 million Thursday to develop a US rocket engine as an alternative to Russian equipment currently used to launch military satellites into orbit. Amid broader disputes with President Vladimir Putin over Kremlin aggression in neighboring Ukraine, US lawmakers have considered ways to break from Russian rocket dependence, including blocking US firms from purchasing Russian-made engines and developing a new American-made engine. "Mr Putin's Russia is giving us some problems," said Senator Bill Nelson, who flew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986. "So we put $100 million in the defense bill to develop a state-of-the-art rocket engine to make sure that we have assured access to space for our astronauts as well as our military space payloads."

Amid backlash, IRS delays new U.S. rules for social welfare groups

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republicans claimed victory on Thursday after the Internal Revenue Service said it will delay and rewrite proposed rules for tax-exempt, social welfare groups that were at the heart of the agency's a political controversy last year. "This proposed rule was wrong from the start," said Republican Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives. "Hopefully the IRS and the Obama Administration will think twice before ever trying to go down this path again," he said in a statement. ...

Arizona leaders take on child welfare overhaul

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday called the state Legislature into special session to debate and enact her proposal for overhauling the state's troubled child welfare agency.

Ban report slams Syria aid access for third time

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that humanitarian access in Syria was worsening, blaming the government in particular but also armed rebels in a third report on the matter. Ban said Damascus was still stopping aid convoys from crossing into Syria from Iraq, Jordan and Turkey in violation of Security Council Resolution 2139 adopted in February. The Council is due to debate the report on May 29. For now, the 15 members have failed to reach an agreement with Russia providing diplomatic cover to Damascus.